Mad Men Mondays: Geez Louise!


During the third season of Mad Men Feministing writers will offer some of our thoughts on feminist moments, scenes, and themes in the new episodes in order to start a discussion about these topics in our community. *WARNING: Lots of spoilers follow.

Carla and the Drapers’ church habits.

As someone who grew up in a religious community I identified with processing difference through performance of faith. One of the first ways I became aware of race was through differing religious rituals. In this episode we see Sally starting to engage with racial difference, possibly as a result of Miss Farrell’s class. -Jos
Don and Suzanne Farrell.
This feels much more relationship-y to me than Don’s previous affairs. I think this is partly because the power dynamic is unlike anything we’ve seen with Don before: Don and Suzanne appear to be relative equals in their interactions. I was consistently surprised by the ways Don reacted to Suzanne, going along with her words and actions when the expectation based on his past actions is that he will push away. -Jos

Don: “There is a blue that at least forty five percent of the population sees as the same.”

That ish was deep. I don’t even have anything more to say about that. -Lori
Don: “Every time i hear ‘and then’ there’s another chance for the ladies at home to misunderstand.”
Just in case we forgot: Don thinks the women he sells to are idiots. -Jos
This seems to be Don’s logic towards most people, which is another reason why he doesn’t tell Betty much about his past- he doesn’t think she can really “get him”. -Lori



Kinsey accuses Peggy of being favored because of her gender.

I found this moment so telling; Kinsey can’t grasp the idea that maybe Peggy simply has some great ideas – it just has to be because she “wears a skirt.” Though I did love Kinsey’s awe of Peggy towards the end of the episode when she – yet again! – comes up with some genius copy. -Jessica
Danny, Suzanne’s brother.
Part of why I like Mad Men so much is that, while the show uses its time period to explore prejudice, this can serve as a reminder that discrimination has not gone away (and yes, this is absolutely about audience reaction. I like this show partly because we’re not told exactly what to think and there’s room to engage with topics and issues). People with epilepsy still experience extremely high rates of unemployment. While this was shown in a 1960s context, the reality has not gotten much better. -Jos

Suzanne Farrell: “People are ignorant. They’re scared of things they don’t understand.”

I’m actually tiring a bit of Suzanne as a symbol for the changing times…she’s too hippie dippie perfect in a way that makes her almost not-human. So far I’m seeing her as representative of the time period and of changes Don is going through – but not as a person herself. -Jessica
Kinsey turns up the music and unbuttons his pants.
Okay, am I the only perv that thought he was about to jerk off? -Jessica
I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what was happening. -Jos
“Feeling around” for inspiration, perhaps? No? Too much? -Lori
Achilles: “I’m an American citizen.” Kinsey: “Of course.”
Names and nationality – more ways to process difference. the name “Achilles,” besides being full of humorous and symbolic potential, is also distinctly Greek, or distinctly non-WASP. When this is pointed out Achilles feels the need to state his American citizenship as evidence of not being too much of an “other.” -Jos
Betty opens Don’s drawer.
!!! There was a lot of foreshadowing but I totally did not see this coming, it’s just such a huge step. Betty now has most of the pieces of the puzzle, but I doubt she understands how they fit together. She knows for sure, though, that Don has been living a much bigger lie than she ever could have imagined. I have a really hard time imagining this information doesn’t finally end Betty and Don’s marriage. I mean what do you do with that kind of revelation? How do you even begin to try to process? Just as Don is at the top of his world professionally and feels more trapped than he has before the possibility of losing everything becomes very very real. -Jos
I thought the scene with Betty waiting for Don to come home so she can confront him was just heartbreaking; especially when she realizes he isn’t coming and simply resigns herself to bed. I had the same reaction when she tries to tell Don on the phone that she knows, but instead says in a small voice that she doesn’t feel well. Betty is so close to breaking out of herself…I just really want her to start screaming! -Jessica

Don: “I hate when that happens.”

Don can be an incredibly awful person, so it was nice to have a little reminder of his humanity. When it comes to the creative process Don can actually be empathetic! He’s still an ass though. -Jos

Sally: “Their driver is Chinese.”

Again, Sally is starting to engage with race. Her matter-of-fact statement is a reaction to someone who is outside her everyday experience, as she interacts almost exclusively with white people and black people in service industry roles. -Jos

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27 Comments

  1. Tara K.
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Re: Suzanne
    Suzanne = Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
    Kinsey accuses Peggy of being favored because of her gender.
    So familiar and not at all confined to the ’60s. When I was in a (mostly male) film class as an undergrad not so long ago, I remember getting an ‘A’ on a paper that another classmate got a ‘B-’ on. After class he asked about my grade, then responded, “Well, he’s easier on you because you’re a girl.” Right, I’m sure.
    Re: The Drapers’ Church Habits
    I really read this as an indication of both their class as well as how Don’s own family is imitating his family. (Remember episodes from past seasons where they mention that Don’s family never went to church when he was a child.)

  2. Tara K.
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Re: Suzanne
    Suzanne = Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
    Kinsey accuses Peggy of being favored because of her gender.
    So familiar and not at all confined to the ’60s. When I was in a (mostly male) film class as an undergrad not so long ago, I remember getting an ‘A’ on a paper that another classmate got a ‘B-’ on. After class he asked about my grade, then responded, “Well, he’s easier on you because you’re a girl.” Right, I’m sure.
    Re: The Drapers’ Church Habits
    I really read this as an indication of both their class as well as how Don’s own family is imitating his family. (Remember episodes from past seasons where they mention that Don’s family never went to church when he was a child.)

  3. Abby
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Bobby said the line about the Chinese driver, but your point stands. A Chinese person! What a novelty!

  4. Christina
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    So many interesting things about this episode!
    I cringed when Betty told Sally “we don’t need to go to church every week.” The implication being, what? That they lead a more moral life (ha!) than Carla does?
    The hang up call scene was one of my favorites. Betty and Don both squirming.
    Lois is STILL working there? Guess you just have to be gay to get fired.
    I thought this would be the episode where Betty surprised us, especially after I noticed she was reading The Group. Like always though she takes one step forward and two back. I’m not giving up on her just yet though.

  5. Renee
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Kinsey turns up the music and unbuttons his pants.
    Okay, am I the only perv that thought he was about to jerk off? -Jessica

    Nope I totally thought he was going to do a Runkel from Californication.

  6. Christina
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I thought it was obvious. He even had a towel handy. What was funny was that he did it to an old ad idea, his own if I remember correctly.

  7. j-doug
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Betty opens Don’s drawer
    @ Jos, quite the opposite, I can’t see any way in which this leads to Betty ending their marriage. Betty may be starting to break out of her ascribed role as Upper Class Homemaker, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to divest herself of its benefits or trade her class privilege in for the burden and perils of being a single mother in 1963. If this were the case, that Don’s dishonesty were a major factor, she would have left him last season in spite of her pregnancy.
    On the other hand, she would have little trouble finding a suitor that would provide her this life (although finding one to take on the kids is a different story), and she has her own money I assume as well (divorce laws in NYS in 1963 were rather progressive versus the rest of the country).
    Still, unless this lie costs her the privilege she currently enjoys, I expect her to stay with Don. If anything, it’d be smarter to use this to leverage more equality in their relationship than as an excuse to throw it away.

  8. i_muse
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    “Achilles,” besides being full of humorous and symbolic potential
    Ummm, excuse me? WTF ?!?!?!
    I have cousins in Greece that would spit at that comment. So offensive!
    wow.
    anyways,
    does anyone wanna bet Ms Farrell gets pregnant?
    also,
    I hope Bette takes and stashes a good portion of the money in that drawer.
    I wonder if the show will have the super cooch it takes to show how many women left their husbands back then…by meticulously and carefully stashing money, items, selling jewelry and appliances, etc. before filing for divorce.
    Wouldn’t we all love to see Bette discover and embrace her strength? Even better if she could become as successful as Don.

  9. Ellen Marie-Frances
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    yeah it was the playtex bra one. “Jackie & Marilyn”

  10. ANCRAGE
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    I don’t want to speak for the Feministing writers, but the comment that “‘Achilles,’ besides being full of humorous and symbolic potential…” did suggest that the name Achilles IS actually funny. I’m sure they were instead noting the show’s use of what I can best describe as ‘difference derived humor’ – meaning that what’s actually funny about the situation is Kinsey’s reaction to what’s perceivably different.
    On another note.. I’m so disappointed by what’s going on with Ms. Farrell. I was hoping that someone would reject Don… ugh!
    BTW, I too, was completely surprised to see Lois in this episode.

  11. ANCRAGE
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    I don’t want to speak for the Feministing writers, but the comment that “‘Achilles,’ besides being full of humorous and symbolic potential…” did not suggest that the name Achilles IS actually funny. I’m sure they were instead noting the show’s use of what I can best describe as ‘difference derived humor’ – meaning that what’s actually funny about the situation is Kinsey’s reaction to what’s perceivably different.
    On another note.. I’m so disappointed by what’s going on with Ms. Farrell. I was hoping that someone would reject Don… ugh!
    BTW, I too, was completely surprised to see Lois in this episode.

  12. ANCRAGE
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for the double post, I left the word ‘not’ out of the 1st.. just disregard it.

  13. Juli
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    Suzanne has got to be the most annoying Mad Men character ever. The way she stereotypically falls into the role of a progressive free spirit makes me yawn, and I’m absolutely disgusted by her disregard for Betty’s feelings (not to mention Don’s CHILDREN). It’s one thing to own your sexuality, but to own your sexuality at the expense of another woman and three young children is just plain wrong. And she has absolutely no compunction for what she’s doing.
    I want to know where Sal is. He’d better be coming back.
    Am I just too romantically inclined, or did anyone else think that Kinsey looked really attracted to Betty when he was staring at her in Don’s office?

  14. Juli
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Peggy not Betty, we need an edit button. :)

  15. wax_ghost
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I’m surprised no one is making a bigger deal about Betty reading The Group. What a great, feminist book for her to read.

  16. Christina
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    I like to think he was admiring her for her talent and intellect. It seemed like he gained a lot of respect for her in that moment and, hopefully, realized what a sexist prick he was being before.

  17. Mama Mia
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    That was the ad that they claimed was “aimed at women.” Hmm. Don’t think so.

  18. Hippiegrrl
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    “That ish was deep. I don’t even have anything more to say about that.” – Lori
    Do you feel that the colour conversation frames the dichotomy between dialectical and practical thinking? Suzanne is more artistic (read:childlike) in her approach to this topic, while Don is more analytical. He acts as an authority on everything and this is another instance to show his mental prowess. Could also have much to do with his hidden past and need to have control, if only over something that seems trivial (to him at least).

  19. omphaloskeptic
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    is anyone else as excited as I was to see Joan in the previews for next week?

  20. Peter
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Kinsey turns up the music and unbuttons his pants.
    Note, too, that Kinsey’s preparing to “get to work” on one of his own previous ads — the (rejected) Playtex campaign which had the same model dressed up as Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe (those two sides of every women). Now that’s an image of Mad Men’s advertising world!

  21. Jos
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    What ANCRAGE said. Sorry that was unclear.

  22. Toongrrl
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Sounds intresting!!

  23. Juli
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    You’re probably right. Plus it’d be a little weird if yet another person fell for Peggy.

  24. Yekaterina
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Ok may be it was just me, but did anyone else get a really really bad feeling when Kinsey boozed up and went around the dark empty office looking for Peggy (and finding Achilles instead)? I just had a flashback to the previous episode, where Pete got drunk and went back to demand what was his due from the nanny. I was sooo relieved when he fell asleep. Really hope the whole “but you’ll get raped if you move to the city!” thing is not foreshadowing of any kind. But I’m scared now because Kinsey will (most likely) be furious about Peggy outdoing him again (and “helping” him through their meeting with Don).

  25. LittleLauren
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    Actually Kinsey has been into Peggy from the beginning. In season one he was spending his lunch with her every day, until he tried to seal the deal with her. When she rejected him he started treating her like she didn’t exist.
    Yekaterina (scroll down to read Y’s comment) is probably right. I got a bad feeling when he went looking for Peggy as well. I think Kinsey will be “retaliating” in some way. I didn’t see the way he looked at Peggy as awe. I saw it as shock. As in, he’s shocked and offended because Peggy purposely (and she definitely did, purposely) figured out exactly what to say to Don, and waited until after Kinsey admitted to being a screw-up to say it.

  26. Juli
    Posted October 25, 2009 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Personally I don’t think it was intentional, I think Peggy is just more talented than even she realizes. She doesn’t seem like the vindictive type, and making Kinsey look stupid would be vindictive.

  27. Juli
    Posted October 25, 2009 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I’m even more creeped out now because I didn’t get that at all until you said it. When he went looking for Peggy I thought he was just going to drunkenly yell at her, rape never even occurred to me. Wow, that’s creepy.

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